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In her own words: Palin accuses McCain's staff of ruining her image in Alaska

November 16, 2009 |  2:59 pm

Palin2 We finally have our hands on a copy of "Going Rogue: An American Life" and for those interested in the battle royal that Sarah Palin fought with the campaign staff of her Republican presidential running mate, Sen. John McCain, there are juicy details.

She blames McCain's staffers, particularly his campaign manager Steve Schmidt, for ruining her reputation in Alaska.

In one anecdote, she reveals how she was admonished after trying to maintain the same easy relationship with Alaska radio hosts that she had enjoyed as governor. She learned that the hard way one day with McCain on his campaign bus.

"Many reporters had my personal cell phone number and I had theirs," she writes. "That's the way we operated. It helped us govern. So as the campaign bus barreled down a freeway somewhere in the middle of America, I punched up KWHL on speed dial.

"'Hey Bob, it's Sarah?'

"'Governor!' Bob said. 'Good to hear from you! Finally!'

"'Hey, I wanted to touch base and I've got a true American hero sitting right here with me, and you should feel honored to hear him say hello. I'm going to put him on the line so he can say hi to Alaska."

That did not go over well with McCain staffers who told Palin's staff, "Don't ever let her do that again."

Her response: "Oops.. I suppose my handing John the phone with a radio host on the other end could be considered breaking their proper protocol...[but] it didn't seem particularly improper, especially for a man whose campaign bus was called the 'Straight Talk Express.' "

She was pretty sure McCain wasn't bothered, "But the lectures from on high began about my talking to the media, especially the Alaska media."

McCain campaign manager Schmidt, who is the all-around Bad Guy in Palin's book puts it simply to her: "Alaska has three electoral votes. You don't need to contact the Alaska media again."

Palin says her top aide, Meghan Stapleton, begged McCain's staff to let Palin speak with Alaska reporters who had traveled to the Lower 48 to report on their governor. Palin figured that she would benefit if the national media picked up stories written by reporters "who knew me and had been reporting on me for years. Maybe that would help counter the spin of so many other stories."

It was not to be. After one campaign event, she tried to break away to speak with an Anchorage reporter, but a campaign handler grabbed her by the elbow and hustled her away. "It was not a respectful thing to do," she writes. Later, the reporter wrapped up his piece this way: "And the Sarah Palin we once knew, is gone."

It's probably wishful thinking on Palin's part that speaking to Alaska reporters would have softened her image, given that around the same time she would accuse Barack Obama of "palling around" with terrorists.

But the Alaska press, she writes, "decided I was ignoring them and maybe thinking I'd grown too big for my britches."

-- Robin Abcarian

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Photo: Palin with McCain at a Michigan rally, September 2008. Credit: Jeff Kowalsky / European Pressphoto Agency